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FIA WEC: Bahrain, Race Preview Part 2, GTE

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The KCMG/ AF Corse accident on lap one spoiled the script for Ferrari, they looked set fair to take the drivers and teams title, a 48.5 point lead pre-race now almost halved.

That still gives the Porsches (the only remaining contenders) a mountain to climb, but there is at least hope!

Closest to the leader is the #92 Porsche (Teams) and Fred Makowiecki (drivers). His task is a simple one to express – Pole and a race win, rather more difficult to deliver!

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If the #51 wins, and/ or leaves Bahrain with more than a 26 point advantage then the #51 Ferrari, and Bruni and Vilander, are team and drivers Champions. Finishing ahead of the #92 is all they need to do!

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To do that they’ll be using, we believe, a brand new Ferrari 458 Italia, the damage done to the #51 beyond immediate repairability with the short gap between WEC races.

To score the win both title contenders will need to overcome a very fired up #97 crew, they looked set to take the win in China with ease but engine failure in the closing stages left Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke heading for the bar rather than the podium! they can’t take the title – But they REALLY want to win races!

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The #91 Porsche completed the factory team’s first 2014 1,2 in China, showed good pace and keeps Richard Lietz, theoretically, in the Drivers Championship hunt.

The #71 Ferrari pair of James Calado and Davide Rigon continued their rapid progress and played a key part in reducing the Manufacturers Championship damage after #51s exit from proceedings. Ferrari still lead, but now by just 8 points. This one could be close – and this is the one that Ferrari, and AF Corse, really care about!

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The #99 Craft Bamboo AMR team meanwhile seemed to lack the punch that they found in Japan. They ran strongly, but not strongly enough to be a real factor – In a learning year they are….learning! They’ll have a new face on hand in Bahrain. Abdulaziz Al Faisal has no shortage of GT racing experience, including stars at Le Mans but this will be his 6 hour WEC debut.

He replaces Darryl O’Young who will be on Craft Bamboo duty at Macao.

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The class was at a 2014 low of just 5 cars in China but should be back up to seven in Bahrain with the reintroduction of the #61 and #81 AF Corse Ferraris.

Whether that has any impact of the result of the overall win is debatable. The two Aston Martins have simply crushed all opposition this season, only these two can now take the Championship and the #95 car has a mighty 31 point advantage in the stndings.

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Nicki Thiim is back for the ‘Dane Train’ here. If the #95 finishes ahead of the sister #98 the teams title is theirs, and the Drivers title will go to Kristian Poulsen and David Heinemeier Hansson.

A #98 win might take the title battle down to the wire (depending on who scores pole and where the #95 finishes) and to do that there will again be heavy reliance on Pedro Lamy’s current sparkling form though both Messrs Nygaard and Dalla Lana were on fine form again in China too to close the gap a little to their AMR colleagues.

The #90 crew, with Matteo Cressoni making his debut in the temporarily red 8Star car (the team ran the rather newer car usually running as #61 in the WEC in China), scored a well deserved first podium of the season, their efforts season long deserve better. Cressoni stays aboard in Bahrain.

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That broke a run of Porsche podium finishes, the 911 RSRs both under par in Shanghai, albeit the #88 car getting help in that regard in the shape of David Cheng’s Morgan which punted Khalid Al Qubaisi in Turn 14 rather rudely in the latter stages of the race.

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Klaus Bachler returns to the #88 after missing Shanghai due to a Porsche Supercup commitment.

The #81 AF Corse Ferrari returns with its regular crew whilst Jeff Segal returns to AF Corse after 2 races in the #90 car aboard the #61 458, he’s joined by Alexander Talkanitsa, and Alessandro Pier Guidi, both making their WEC debuts.